30 x 24 in | 76.2 x 61 cm
I never would have guessed that I would be interested in painting an alligator, or any reptiles for that matter. I’ve always been more drawn to cute, fuzzy mammals or birds. But I’ve begun to discover that what I paint is not so much determined by the animals or plants that I generally like best, but rather whichever I feel most excited about rendering in paint. This alligator, whose photographs were taken by my dad’s cousin Paul, struck me as special. When I first saw the images, I was amused by how unusually (and deceptively) friendly this gator seems to be. But it wasn’t so much the charming smile that compelled me to paint it. It was the bright dappled sunlight and sharp patches of light and dark that made it a dramatic composition. My favourite part of creating this painting was the skin. The way the scaly lumps seem like smooth, shiny pebbles set in cement. Each little bump has multiple colours that add dimension and interest. It was a delight to paint.
I was at a dinner party recently, and was asked to show some pictures of my latest painting. The group was very interested in the gator, but expressed that they thought I really ought to paint an ibis to be fair. They were referring to the rivalry between University of Florida and University of Miami sports teams. Most of the guests were UM graduates, so they wanted to see a painting of their own mascot, the ibis. As it happens, I had already started painting an ibis. A few weeks later, I had a painting for each of the two teams. My father-in-law, the host of the dinner party and one of the UM alumni, was very pleased.